Oregon Woodland Co-op
Recipient of 2009 and 2005 USDA Value Added Producer grants.
The genesis of the cooperative took place in the late 1970s. A group began to discuss ways that small woodland owners could pool their resources and market together. Two years after investigating the idea and determining a strong market potential, the group organized into a formal cooperative.
The Cooperative Today
One of the goals of the cooperative has been to develop specialty markets so members do not have to sell into the regular commodity market. Today the cooperative has 93 product markets and harvest projects selling over 11.4 million board feet of logs from members’ properties. Last year products worth more than $5.5 million were sold. Some of the unique products include distilling Douglas fir needles and selling them into the aromatherapy market, extracting oils for medicinal purposes, development of specialty wood markets and carbon sequestration opportunities. The cooperative has aggressively marketed products that grow below the trees in the forest such as the Oregon grape root, which has medicinal usage, mushrooms and mint.
Services of the Cooperative
The cooperative members are also concerned about the impact of consolidation in their industry. This affects the market competiveness and their ability to get competitive bids for the products. Product innovation and quality are key elements to the future of this business. One of the primary features the cooperative offers to the marketplace is a product with a unique identity based around family forestry. Customers gain a connection with the resource and the people providing it.
The cooperative has to improve constantly. The cost of various transactions whether they are information, negotiations or completing business, represents the primary variable costs in this business. New innovative products are important to the future of the company. But also important will be improving the costs of doing business. Widespread and variable supply is a challenge today as it was back at the start. Dealing efficiently with that is a hallmark of the cooperative.
Many of the woodlands are located next to large population areas, so there continues to be pressure from housing developments and ratcheted that take the land out of production. Many of the cooperative members are also getting older and are trying to determine appropriate land succession strategy for interested family members.
Recently several large bug infestations have devastated forests in the state of Washington and Canada. The landowners are concerned about the potential migration of these infestations into Oregon. But if managed properly, the decrease in available timber from Canada creates a potential opportunity for woodland owners in Oregon.
Today the cooperative’s role is evolving as always. But the original mission remains, which is to help members improve production management and expand markets.
For More Information:
Neil Schroeder, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-628-2344
Written October 2008.